Opening up different understandings

I feel a lot when I am ‘in the field’, which surprises me a little because I always thought of myself as a rather detached person. An even greater surprise has been that what I feel impacts on my ability to go back home and make intelligible notes at the end of the night.I thought if I felt caught up in what I am doing I would want to write about it more. However, I found that the more involved I feel in what is going on the less willing I am to ‘work though it’.

My notes had become an impossible task about a month and a half ago not because I was too tired or too teary, rather I have had a case of writer’s block. Slowly that block seems to be receding, thanks in part to the draft after draft of my reflections and conclusions I pumped out in preperation for a couple of master classes earlier in the week.

One of the topics was desire. I realised I needed to try to work out what unfulfilled desires I sit with as a researcher. In some ways this is something I already knew, but it is one thing to say I should reflect on what I want and another to actually undertake such reflection as a tool to work out why I have the reactions and make the choices I do.

When I really thought about what I was struggling with, I realised it was not so much what people are doing but rather what they are expecting (or rather not expecting) from each other. I have been able to gain a glimpse into how I relate to the relationships I am observing, experiencing and trying to understand. It seems a bit odd to consider relationships as an object towards which I have an orientation or as an object which I myself am in relation to. I suppose this is why some people get so excited about Actor Network Theory.

It has been very encouraging to find out that I can work through a block in my own thinking through engaging with the work of others. I suppose that is why we do PhDs within universities. Theories and other thinkers really do provide other tools for viewing the social world, and there is nothing like a deadline to make me pull them out and have a bash at using them.


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